The 103,000-square-foot Junior’s Cheesecakes & Desserts bakery, Burlington, NJ, is often abuzz with activity. It runs two shifts five days a week. Processing takes up 60,000 square feet, and 30,000 square feet is packaging. The rest is for offices.

The cheesecakes are mixed and deposited along two production lines in Building 1 along with a depanning operation. Building 2 has four blast freezers along with slicing and packaging operations. Most of the cake decorating is done in Building 3, and Building 4 is where the non-cheesecake cakes are baked.

The first building has a 96-pallet capacity refrigerator that holds raw ingredients, including heavy cream and 50-lb blocks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Bakery owner Alan Rosen still has one of the wooden boxes in the Junior’s offices that held 3-lb blocks that the restaurant used when it opened. Now the bakery gets three deliveries of cream cheese every week, each containing 40,000 lbs. That’s 120,000 lbs a week, or more than 6 million lbs each year.

Three Topos Mondial mixers produce 600-lb batches of cheesecake filling. The bakery makes 55 to 60 batches daily that go into dozens of products. Ingredients for each batch are scaled and added manually.

“You’ll notice the beaters are paddles, so it’s not incorporating a lot of air in the product. When you taste our cheesecake, it will be dense but creamy and smooth,” Mr. Rosen said. “The length of time we mix it and the scraping of the sides of the bowl is what we’ve always done. We used to do it by hand.”

Gloved workers still help scrape down the paddle beaters while a large paddle is used to scrape the sides of the bowls to ensure that all ingredients are incorporated.

“The mixing is all timed out,” Mr. Rosen said. “The screen tells them when to add what. We went from open-bowl mixing years ago to closed bowl mixing because you have to. This process is going to take about 30 minutes. Everything is done exactly the same way. There’s no deviation.”

He emphasized that every product contains the same cheesecake filling and the importance of getting the mix right.

“If any of the cheesecake is not perfectly mixed, your cheesecake is not going to be perfect,” he said. “You might have a burn bubble; you might have a crack from the dry ingredients. Everything has to be perfectly mixed every time.”

Two Hobart mixers in this area are used to make fruit fillings, graham cracker crusts and more.

The bakery has a Sancassiano mixer on order, which has double the capacity of the Topos Mondial mixers. Once that is up and running, one of the Topos mixers will be moved to Building 3 to make frostings, whipped cream and other toppings.

When the cheesecake mixture is ready, the bowls are wheeled to one of two Colborne Foodbotics depositing lines. On this day, workers are making 6-inch plain cheesecakes on one line. The pans are greased, then workers drop in the thin layer of vanilla sponge cake, the bakery’s signature New York cheesecake base. Once the cheesecake filling is deposited, pans are loaded onto trays for a short trip to the ovens.

Strawberry Swirl cheesecakes are put together on the other depositing line. The bakery has a Unifiller line on order, which will be installed alongside the two existing cheesecake lines. One of the current lines is equipped with a Colborne swirler attached, which incorporates the filling into two 6-inch cakes at a time. There are other attachments for the swirler that can either handle one large cheesecake or four Little Fellas, which are 4-oz individual cakes.

The bakery has four more processing lines, including a Unifiller line that sprays pans and deposits batter to make layer cakes and sponge cakes, another semi-automated Unifiller line in the decorating area that applies creams and frostings, and two conveyor belt lines where workers decorate and assemble cakes by hand.

Once the cheesecakes are ready, they are placed on sheet pans — holding two to nine cakes, depending on their size — racked and wheeled to one of 11 ovens dedicated to baking cheesecakes. They include seven Middleby Marshall rotating ovens, two Reed rotating ovens, a Gemini Bakery Equipment oven and a Revent oven. The sheet pans are filled with water, which creates a steam bath that helps the cheesecakes bake properly and prevents them from cracking.

The bakery recently installed two Gemini rack ovens for baking layer cakes. Because the layer cakes don’t need the steam bath, they can be more easily baked in the rack ovens that don’t need to be manually loaded and unloaded.

Racks of cheesecakes fill up the space around the ovens to cool before they are wheeled into one of the blast freezers nearby. The bakery has eight freezers in all for storing baked products. All of the cheesecakes are frozen before either going to packaging or decorating.

A Douglas tunnel washer sits nearby, which the bakery started using a couple of years ago, and runs 20 hours a day. It’s more efficient than the previous washer in which pans had to be loaded onto racks, wheeled into and out of the washer then unloaded.

“Now the pans can be washed constantly,” Mr. Schwartz said. “They are loaded onto one side, then come out the other clean.”

The washer cleans, rinses and sanitizes about 2,000 pans an hour. During its daily downtime, the washer is cleaned and filled with fresh water so it’s ready to go for the next shift.

Facility cleaning continues around and during production. The bakery employs 22 sanitation workers who maintain the SQF-level 2 facility. And everyone in the company receives training twice a year that includes food safety, among other lessons. The company only purchases ingredients from approved suppliers to ensure quality, and food safety audits are conducted daily.

This article is an excerpt from the June 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Junior's Cheesecakes & Desserts, click here.